Sep 22, 2020 Editorial
From reports in the media, it seems that there is frequently some alarming incident at the Lusignan Prison facility. This temporary holding facility is, once again, visited by death and has come to represent a grenade with the pin pulled. It is problem creating with the disturbing waiting to happen. It must go.
The list of troubling developments is long, with fatalities occurring from time to time, and the latest fallen reported on Saturday last. There have been internal squabbling and bad blood leading to clashing between inmates, with serious injury and death following. There have been riots and reports of contraband smuggled successfully, and some items and efforts thwarted by officials. The pictures of weapons and products speak of a porous, maybe compromised, system. There have been attempted escapes and actual escapes from this supposedly temporary facility. There have been, as said earlier, deaths at different times. And, yet this abomination in the center of a large community, this priority for quick and concrete action, still stands years later in a place and a society that dreads its nearness and very existence.
The dangers are palpable and frightening. Can this facility hold? How much longer can its crowded confines withstand the agitations and pressures from the inside? For, no matter how well viewed, this Lusignan Prison facility is more than a constant threat. It is a clear and present danger that hangs over the head of nearby community and country at large. To be blunt and realistic: the Lusignan Prison is the equivalent of a runaway truck without brakes or operator barreling rapidly towards a crowded marketplace. There are untold consequences promised.
Without getting too far into any politics, the government is relatively new, all of seven weeks old, but it must pick up the pieces and bring swift closure to this thorn in the eye and potential dagger in the heart. Of the utmost urgency, the facility has to be moved to a more well-situated, permanent home that induces some degree of security among citizens nationwide. We have heard of a construction project in the works; it must now be placed as a priority among the many other priorities for expedited resolution.
It does not help, in the least, to point fingers and seek answers as to who dragged their feet, or which group failed to deliver on obligations due to citizens very unhappy with the situation and the plights hovering over their daily existence. The situation is not eased by the arguments now routine in Guyana, the fears do not disappear, the menaces merely languish and multiply.
What matters now, and it is imperative that these associated issues be addressed without delay is how to ease the overcrowding, how to bring about a greater sense of control and confidence, relative to what goes on inside the facility. Passions and tensions are at fever pitch, and ways have to be found to defuse the explosive situations that now appear to be almost run of the mill.
In the absence of an early transfer of hardcore inmates, or similar removal of the facility, there must be casting around for ways to dissipate the calculating conspiracies and hard angers that spiral within those walls. Visitors could be one weak spot that affords transfer of items and, hence, the availability of accessories that empower those detained to risk danger and take matters in their hands with either bloody results or lethal effects. Visitors must be monitored better, carefully and sensitively, but comprehensively with a view to doing better.
More cell sweeps may have to be implemented, with the intention of those becoming part of the routine to nip nefarious visions in the bud. The official objective must be that, since there is no choice but to live with the hand that is held, of keeping criminal calculations from developing into full blown plots, riots, or escape attempts. To put differently, the strategy would be to keep the plotters and ringleaders off balance. In addition, the perimeter of the prison has to be layered with both overt and covert personnel, if only to send stronger messages.
Whatever is done, this is non-negotiable: the Lusignan Prison must go and the quicker the better.
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